I used to pride myself on clocking up eight hours sleep each night. And not just any old eight hours, I’m talking the kind that saw me sleep right through as soon as my head hit the pillow. But when I left my job in print magazines and embarked on a new gig in digital, that all changed. I felt like I had to read the whole internet before bed just to keep on top of all the content being churning out. Realistic? Nope. I was only getting four hours of sleep each night, despite spending seven tucked in bed, glued to my iPhone.
Of course, my first port of call was (somewhat ironically) the internet. I found plenty of tips on how to fall asleep (wear warm socks, eat a banana before bed) but not much help on staying asleep. I started having a good gulp of red wine before bed each night, but realized that was an expensive — and slippery — slope.
After telling my naturopath about my sleep woes, he suggested doing yoga just before bed. With my favored practice Bikram, I pictured a vigorous workout that would only give me an energy boost — and require a shower — so I wasn’t exactly sold. My major qualm? I didn’t want to schlep it to a studio in the dark only to be coming home late at night. But of course, there’s an app for that.
With my fitness budget maxed out with a weekly membership to F45, I was in the market for a cheap option. And after making decisions all day, I’m all too happy to tap out and be told what to do. Enter: the Nike Training Club app.
Alongside HIIT, strength and cardio sessions, they have four yoga workouts to pick from with a focus on lengthening and stretching — no second shower required. I chose the 20 minute essential restorative flow and it was like having a yoga teacher right in front of you, on your mat, leading you through a class. Except, I was you know, in my bedroom.
The trickiest part was changing my preconceived notions of yoga. I had to flip my thinking to look at it more like stretching, as opposed to toning as you would in a vinyasa practice. Each night around 9 p.m., I would put on a candle and roll out my mat to run through the routine in my sweatpants. By limiting the roadblocks (class membership, sports bra) I found it much easier to stick to.
And after two weeks, I noticed a change. Not only was I sleeping through the night better, I was also waking up more refreshed — sometimes even before my alarm went off at 6 a.m. The act of stretching my muscles literally released the tension held there and helped my body — and mind — relax.
By clearing my mind and moving my body, I was able to reduce some of that anxiety, lower irrational expectations (seriously who can read the whole internet?) and keep a handle on my reactions the next day, instead of flying off the handle when I was tired and cranky.
Turns out, when your mind isn’t calculating every weird thing that happened in your day or worrying about tomorrow’s deadlines, it’s better at clocking up some restorative rest, instead of waking you up in the night to scroll Instagram and check emails.
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